Jamie Harsip Content
So, what did you do this Memorial Day weekend? I went to the first-ever Boston Calling Music Festival! Staged in the middle of Boston’s City Hall Plaza and including headlining acts Fun. and The National, Boston Calling was an incomparable music festival experience. The event took place over two days, full of some of our favorite indie rock acts.
Day one began with Bad Rabbits rocking the main stage at 1:30 PM. Doors opened at noon and people were allowed to go in and out by showing their wristbands, but there was plenty to do inside the venue area in the meantime. There were a number of food vendors, a 21+ section, and a wide array of merchandise available to buy (and for reasonable prices, I might add). The next to go on was St. Lucia, this time performing on the City Hall stage. This was the smaller and more intimate of the two stages, and where I spent most of my time. Cults followed Bad Rabbits on the main stage at 2:45, while MSMR hit the City Hall stage at 3:30.
MSMR was the first act that I actually came to see, so I waited for them to come on through Cults’ set. Unfortunately, the weather was an unseasonable 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and rainy. Not exactly ideal conditions for an outdoor music festival, but we made do. MSMR put on a powerhouse performance that almost made us forget the horrible weather. They, of course, performed their recent underground hit “Bones”, which has been featured in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and a trailer for the current season of Game of Thrones and it brought the house down.
After MSMR, indie pop darlings Matt & Kim rocked the main stage, despite the intermittent downpour, followed by Portugal, The Man on the City Hall stage. The first massive crowd of the day happened when The Shins took the main stage at 6:30. They did not disappoint, playing a slew of fun songs that defied the nasty weather.
Photo By Kaitlin Summers
Headlining and closing the City Hall stage on day one was Marina and the Diamonds, and good lord did she put on a great show. Despite the now-constant rain and quickly dropping temperature, the crowd was insane. Marina played all of her most popular songs, so even the casual fan was able to totally rock out. She closed her set with the upbeat and dance-worthy “How To Be A Heartbreaker”. In my very humble opinion it was the performance of the day, hands down.
The big finish of the day was Fun. headlining the main stage. In characteristic Fun. style the set was energetic and, well, fun! They played some wonderful covers, in addition to both hits and lesser known songs. “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” were some truly awesome live covers, I’ve got to say. By the time Fun. started playing, the weather had kind of cleared up (although it was still a balmy 40-something degrees) and the crowd was grateful. There were group hugs and linked arms aplenty, and the spirit of the festival was truly palpable. It was a great way to end the day.
Day two was much better, weather-wise. It was perfectly dry, for one thing. And it was about ten degrees warmer (not quite the ideal weather for Memorial Day weekend, but we took what we could get). There were easily three times as many people in attendance for day two, and it brought a whole new vibe to the event. The sun was shining (off and on, to be fair) and people were socializing, and it was just a lot of fun.
The day began with Caspian owning the main stage, followed by Youth Lagoon on the City Hall stage. Dirty Projectors brought in quite the crowd at the main stage just before 3 PM, and Ra Ra Riot took the City Hall stage afterward. The Walkmen put on a vibrant set on the main stage, gathering a large crowd, but not as large as the crowd that gathered for Andrew Bird’s 5:30 performance on the City Hall stage.
Crowds began forming for Andrew Bird an hour or more before he was scheduled to go on. He put on a brilliant show, which spawned numerous dance parties in the audience (although this may have had something to do with the drop in temperature, too). For those unfamiliar, a typical Andrew Bird show includes him playing multiple instruments, often in the same songs. It’s not everyone who can sing while playing violin, but Andrew Bird can do it, and he did. It was a truly awesome set, and I would say that this was my second favorite performance of the whole festival.
Of Monsters And Men rocked the main stage shortly after Andrew Bird’s set ended, and they drew in a massive crowd (see first photo). At this point the sun was beginning to set and people were starting to get a little bit cold, but energy was still high. The band played their singles, as well as some unreleased tracks, and they rocked. The whole place went nuts when they started in on their hit “Little Talks”.
The final band to grace Boston Calling’s City Hall stage was Young The Giant. They put on an enthusiastic show, that’s for sure! Lucky for those in attendance, the band played some brand new songs from the month and a half they had just spent in the studio. Everyone sang along when they played their popular song “Cough Syrup”, which may be familiar since it was featured on season 3 of Glee. They were loud and spirited and completely saved their audience from succumbing to the increasing cold and wind.
Finally, the festival ended with The National pulling out all the stops in the main stage. They rocked the stage and brought Boston Calling to a thrilling end, complete with an exciting announcement. As it turns out,
Boston Calling will return to City Hall Plaza this coming September for another exciting two days! The 7th and 8th will be another exciting festival full of our favorite indie rock acts – this time headling are Vampire Weekend and Passion Pit! The Airborne Toxic Event, Solange, Bat For Lashes, Gaslight Anthem, Kendrick Lamar, and others will also be performing!
Earlybird tickets go on sale this Friday, May 31, at 10 AM. Be there or miss out on an incredible concert experience!
Photos by Jamie Harsip, unless otherwise stated